Japanese salarymen urged to shed their suits

Kyoto, Japan – The Japanese Ministry of the Environment (MoE) has launched its ‘Cool Biz 2009’ campaign in Kyoto, encouraging workers to save energy by leaving their jackets and ties at home.

Since the campaign kicked off in 2005, workers have been encouraged to limit the use of air conditioning and wear casual clothes such as short-sleeved shirts without jackets or ties instead of suits, jackets and ties. This year, the MoE aims to expand the scheme to cover homes and coming up with ways for people to stay comfortable in 28 degree Centigrade temperatures.

MoE minister Tetsuo Saito appeared with workers from eight department stores dressed in ‘fashionable and functional’ styles including traditional Japanese kimonos. Officials from chambers of commerce and industry in Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, the governor of Kyoto Prefecture and the mayor of Kyoto all called for the public to get on the Cool Biz bandwagon.

Last year’s Cool Biz campaign resulted in a 1,720,000-ton reduction in CO2 emissions, the equivalent volume of CO2 emitted by about 3.85 million households for one month, says the MoE.

A survey revealed that that 93.6 percent of Japanese citizens had heard of Cool Biz and 61.8 percent said they had set the air conditioner thermostat higher than in previous years as a result.